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Kristy Mara
Kristy Mara focuses on complex litigation as a partner at Honsa & Mara in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Mara leads matrimonial lawyers as cases surge

Name: Kristy Mara

Title: Partner, Honsa & Mara

Education: B.A., business and mathematics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Kristy Mara, newly elected to a two-year term as president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), says family lawyers are “busier than they’ve ever been” during the pandemic.

Mara, who focuses on complex litigation as a partner at Honsa & Mara in Minneapolis, said cases spiked beginning in April 2020 and have surged again since May of this year after a spring slowdown.

“Initially we had a theory that was due to people being stuck at home,” Mara said. “Why they’re back up this summer, I don’t know.”

To apply for admission to AAML, an attorney must have practiced for 10 years, have devoted 75% or more of their practice to matrimonial and family law and pass an in-depth exam, Mara said.

“It’s a rigorous process, so anybody who is in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has been well-vetted and is an expert in family law and can handle complicated cases,” Mara said.

The Minnesota chapter has 51 fellows among more than 1,600 nationally.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: I’m a big talker. When I get in the elevator at work, I’ll just start up a conversation with someone. Another way to break the ice with me is talking about home improvement. I also love cooking, baking and music.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I always wanted to be a lawyer. After college, because I majored in math, I thought I would be an actuary. And then, after a year of deciding if I want to be an actuary, I decided to go to law school. I like the back and forth and the debate nature of practicing law; I’m good at quickly thinking up a counter argument, so that might contribute to why I thought back then I would be a good lawyer.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: I have interesting cases, I get to work with highly intelligent people, and the variety of work that I have is exciting.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The stress and anxiety that my clients are experiencing. The hardest part is that you can’t fix those things for clients. Sometimes it’s just a matter of working through the process and it takes time. But that anxiety is hard on clients.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: My husband and I are big into home improvement. We just redid my kids’ bathroom downstairs. We stripped it down to the studs. We tiled it. My husband built the vanity. We did everything from the floor up. I also love baking and cooking with my kids. We often try new recipes and we’ve kind of perfected our own favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: I grew up in River Falls and my parents still live there. The Swinging Bridge over the Kinnickinnic River by Glen Park — it’s a suspended bridge with some falls underneath it. It’s a picturesque spot.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. My girls and I just watched the documentary on her. I love the section where she says to get across your point, you should not yell or raise your voice. You must maintain composure at all times. That is really good advice for anyone, even if you’re not practicing law.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: Lots of people think that family law is easy. Not so. Family law is highly complicated and involves many different areas of the law. In any given case, I might have to know business law, real estate law, and how to divide stock options.  There are highly complicated issues that we deal with in family law.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: My favorite movie is “A Few Good Men.” I’ve probably seen that over 10 times. There are some scenes in that movie that sometimes happen in trial.


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